Apple, Cheddar, and Whole Wheat Scones

What do you MEAN it's nearly mid-November?! This absolutely cannot be. No, no, no; I simply won't allow it.

From the above sentence, you might gather one of the following:

1. Little C has just gotten into movies with Julie Andrews, which means I am now into movies with Julie Andrews.

2. The recent time change has rendered me totally incapable of knowing what hour or what day it is. Like, more than usual.

3. I am now officially at work on book number two (whee!) and have a calendar full of deadlines (gah!), not to mention that I think I'm gaining weight by absorbing butter and sugar through my skin from all the recipe testing for this one. That's a thing, right?

Well, whichever of the above options you chose, you would be correct. Mary Poppins is indeed in the regular rotation. I'm getting less sleep than usual and Little C is enjoying way more Julie Andrews than she should be because I'm trying to pull a manuscript out of the madness. We are busy, but we are happy, and we're all desperately in need of a big pot of soup and some Apple, Cheddar, and Whole Wheat Scones this weekend. I'll make extra for you, because I'll wager to bet we're all in the same boat, zooming towards the New Year, trying to tie up all sorts of loose ends. I-yi-yi. Sweet cracker sandwich, let's all have wine with said scones while we're at it, yes?

It's an exciting thing, jumping back into this cookbook writing process so soon after the last one, and although I can't reveal a ton of details right now, I can tell you that the concept is totally dreamy and there is a whole lot of baking involved, even more so than the sweet, fluffy, puffy little number that's hitting shelves in just a few months (!!). It's a pretty delicious book, and I hope you'll love it. But for now, there are these scones, a tweaked recipe from some people who seriously know their baking.

In my free time, which is to say when I'm lying in bed unable to sleep, when I'm not thinking about what Julie Andrews is up to these days or what Ina does on the weekends, I get to thinking about Real Pastry Chefs. You know, the people who can't afford to be lying awake because they work like 22 hours a day turning out the kinds of confections that make people sigh as though they're looking at newborn babies. Fancy stuff. Big time pastry stuff. Stuff that people like Bill Yosses can do with his eyes closed. Major.

When I first picked up a copy of The Perfect Finish, I was kind of all braced for a book of complex, "project" type recipes, considering one of the authors has been the executive pastry chef at the flippin' White House for the past few years. But I was so charmed to see that this book is so much more than that. Yes, there are a few advanced recipes, but truly, its a very usable book, full of great techniques and totally reliable recipes. Like these scones, for example. Real People Food of the first order, the sort of thing of which co-author Melissa Clark is a complete genius. And oh man, these scones--what great flavor.

I tweaked the method and ingredients just a touch to make things a bit more savory and a bit quicker, just the thing to go with a big pot of something on the stove, so we won't starve while I work away this weekend. Or at least it will keep us from putting cake in our faces for a few hours. But we'll see about that last one.

Apple, Cheddar, and Whole Wheat Scones

Adapted from The Perfect Finish by Bill Yosses and Melissa Clark

Here I've decided to use whole wheat flour as more of a flavor and textural element that as a nutritional thing, and I loved the outcome of the amount I used along with all-purpose flour (the original recipe calls for all all-purpose). If you try to use all whole wheat flour, you'll end up with a much denser scone, and probably a drier one at that, so I don't recommend it. 

Granny Smith apples are my top choice here--it's amazing how their tartness really comes through, and not so much of the sweetness. I cut the sugar by more than half from the original recipe, and topped them with more cheddar rather than sugar as called for in the original recipe. With a few changes, these are truly an insanely flavorful savory scone, in my book. 

Makes 6 scones

7 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons

2 firm, tart apples (like Granny Smith), peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup stone-ground whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided

1 large egg

1/4 cup heavy cream, cold

Position a rack to the center of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat. Add the apples and a pinch of salt. Saute until the apples are tender and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove to a plate and place in the freezer to cool quickly.

Into a medium bowl, sift together the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt.

Place the remaining 6 tablespoons of cold butter into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the cooled apples, half the cheese, egg, and cream. With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients just until the dough comes together and there are no dry pockets.

Lightly flour a work surface and turn the dough out onto it. Pat the dough into a disc about 6 inches in diameter and 1 1/4 inches high. Cut into 6 equal wedges and place on the baking sheet. Sprinkle each scone with a bit of the remaining grated cheddar. Bake until puffed and golden 30 to 35 minutes. Serve warm, or let cool and reheat briefly before serving.

Savory, Quick BreadsShauna Sever